Do you know what you did?
Did you think it through at all?
Yesterday I did a workshop for people with disabilities, as part of the training I use an anti abuse film called "No How". The film, made by people with disabilities for people with disabilities, has a moment where a couple with Down Syndrome give each other a kiss. They are, at that point, talking about what disability 'doesn't mean' - it doesn't mean "I can't love my boyfriend," and it doesn't mean "I can't live in the community" and it doesn't mean "It's OK to abuse me."
There were several people with Down Syndrome attending the workshop. One young woman came out from the crowd and sat very close to the television. She was hyperalert every time either Warren or Kelly was on the screen. You knew that their Down Syndrome in some way was communicating directly to her - giving her messages far beyond the topic of the film about competence and value. Another young couple, both with Down Syndrome, radiated at the idea of being in love and having Down Syndrome - and having their affection validated.
That was all cool, but there was an older man there also with Down Syndrome who couldn't handle the kiss on screen. He covered his face and shook his head. After that moment he could no longer watch the screen. He was distracted and upset. He told me at the next break, "It's against the law for people 'like that' to kiss." He was firm. So was I. I told him that it was not against the law for two people, who love each other to kiss.
"It's against the law and it's wrong," he was firm he said and he walked away.
I don't know who put that message in him. I don't know if it was an anxious parent not knowing what else to say. I don't know if it was a controlling staff not wanting to deal with any 'of that stuff'. I don't know. But I wonder if they ever for a moment thought about what they said. About the lie they told him.
The workshop was about sexual abuse.
And I met a victim.
I don't think that everyone is aware of all the different ways sexual abuse can occur. By telling someone they are wrong (or it is illegal) to engage in consensual sexual activity is just as abusive as perpetrating a sexual act upon them. It is stealing their right to love expressed through intimacy, by making them feel they are wrong to even have the thought. It is intolerable.
Thank you for trying to spread the word about this unjust view.
I hope I can raise my daughter to be aware of both the good and bad kinds of sexual attention.
That's really sad. One of my adult relatives has an intellectual disability. He developed an intense crush once on someone (this is the only one I know directly of, but there may be others), and I felt bad how his feelings were dismissed and think about how difficult things must be, with many kinds of life experiences most of us take for granted denied. He never complains, though I've on occasion seen him push down sadness or anger.
Chills. And then I remembered this blog entry my friend made not so long ago. And it just makes me sad at what people teach their children.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for another post to reinforce a fundamental right that can be stripped away in ways that cloak themselves as caring.
That made me cry.
More murder of people with disabilities...
Remote-controlled explosives strapped to two mentally retarded women detonated in a coordinated attack on Baghdad pet bazaars Friday, Iraqi officials said, killing at least 73 people in the deadliest day since the U.S. sent 30,000 extra troops to the capital last spring.
you can find the whole story at SF Chronicle--and no doubt other papers
I thought you might be interested in this news story:
I hope you blog about this latest news story from Baghdad. So many of us are just speechless about it - and will come back here to hear your words...
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